Throughout his time with the New York Giants, Jacquian Williams has been a steady performer. He has done everything that has been asked of him, performing on special teams and in certain defensive schemes. For the first time in his career, he will enter a season with guaranteed playing time as a regular on defense, and he will make the most of it.
Since being drafted in the sixth round of the 2011 draft out of South Florida, Williams has moved up the Giants’ depth chart, becoming a favorite of the coaching staff. He started as a great special teams player, rotating in on defense for passing situations because of the speed and coverage skills he possess for the linebacker position. He carved out a role and made the most of it, recording 78 tackles his rookie year.
Coming off a Super Bowl winning season, Williams looked poised for a bigger role in 2012, but suffered from some injuries, appearing in only 10 games. Last season, Williams again found himself in more of a rotation as the Giants traded for Jon Beason after allowing Chase Blackburn to walk in free agency.
Williams has received challenges for playing time from Spencer Paysinger and Mark Herzlich in the past, and this season the Giants added Jameel McClain in free agency and Devon Kennard in the 2014 NFL Draft. But for the first time, Williams looks to have a full-time role on the defense.
Coming into spring practice, Williams once again was engaged a battle with Paysinger for the starting spot flanking Beason, with McClain on the other side. With Beason going down, the Giants needed to shuffle things around again and Williams once again showcased his abilities. His performance in practice, coupled with what the Giants have seen out of him in the past, has finally helped him lock down a starting role on the defense.
Williams will most likely slide over to strong side linebacker until Beason is healthy, with McClain moving into the middle, but he will perform no matter where he is. The athleticism that Williams possesses makes him a prototypical three-down linebacker who can play against both the run and pass. He is not a liability chasing running backs out of the backfield or tight ends streaking down the seam.
With a full-time role, expect Williams to have a breakout year. He will become a household name outside of New York, where fans have already became familiar with his play. Williams’s stats will take a huge jump — enough of a one that he will represent the Giants at the Pro Bowl in February if the Giants are not in the Super Bowl.